Advancements in technology are happening at an ever accelerating rate. Today, we are enjoying a lot of “household staple” technologies that were uncommon 5 years ago. (Wi-Fi, LCD TVs, HD, iPhone Apps…the list is endless!) Aren’t you excited for what’s ins store in the next few years? I am. In fact, I am already anticipating 12 key technologies that are just emerging today, but will become a standard in as little as a couple of years from now. I’m no futurist, but it doesn’t take one to make an intelligent guess of the things to come.
1. LED Illumination – The future will be lit by LED lights. They will be everywhere: automotive headlights, streetlamps, bathrooms, refrigerators. Makes sense, as LED is more efficient, emit less heat and last longer than any other lighting technology. (To become standard in 5 years.)
2. Automatic Transmissions – The manual transmission will have the same fate as dinosaurs. Ferrari and Lamborghini have already dropped manuals from their entire line up for good, simply because their A/T’s have become better performing and more efficient than manuals! Before the turn to the next decade, 99.9% of cars will be automatics (the 0.1% being exotics or customs).
3. Hybrid Vehicles – In 10 years, driving a Prius wont be as chic anymore, as majority (>50%) of cars on the road will either be a hybrid or a non-fossil fuel powered car (solar, fuel cell, hydrogen, etc.) Oil companies are still in the denial stage, but the car companies are getting ready. We will also begin seeing hybrids in bikes, boats and aircraft.
4. Interchangeable Lens Compacts – (or ILCs, as coined by dpreview.com) Compact, mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lens will be the choice of prosumers. A less accurate term for them would be Digital Rangefinders. The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Panasonic GF-1 were the pioneers of this format using the micro four thirds sensor format. ILCs with APS-C or full frame sensors are also possibilities. Digital SLRs will not go extinct, but will simply be passe, as consumers will grow tired of its bulk and weight. Besides, the ILCs will always be very close to DSLRs in image quality. The demand for DSLRs will fall drastically and only professionals will continue to use them.
5. Touchscreen – This is nothing new, but its application will be ever more expansive. In five years, all screens and displays will be touch sensitive. Kudos to Apple for pushing the boundaries of touchscreen technology.
6. Inverter Technology – In the next half decade, all household refrigerators and air conditioners will employ inverter technology, thereby making them substantially more energy efficient.
7. Class D Amplification – In 5 years, 99% of sound amplification will have Class D circuitry, which is smaller, more efficient and emit much less heat that the now commonplace Class AB designs. TV’s, Home Theater receivers, iPod speakers, car stereos, mobile phones will all use class D amps. The remaining 1% will be for audio aficionados who swear that tube and/or Class AB amps sound better.
8. LED Displays – Samsung has started using it in their TVs and mobile phones; Apple for all their laptops. If this technology clicks, 9 out of 10 displays will be LEDs in 3-4 years. LCD will probably still be there, as a cheap, low end alternative (i.e. entry level TVs, airplane seat backs and touchscreens for your refrigerator or car navigation systems.
9. Solid State Storage – The hard disk as we know it will be extinct in 6-8 years. All storage, from data centers to laptops, will be solid state, or “flash” based.
10. E Ink Hardware – By 2015, majority of book lovers will own an Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony reader and such. E-books will outsell paperbacks, and some books may be released only in digital format.
11. Dual Turbo – As if one is not enough, we will see more and more cars with dual-turbocharged engines. BMW already has it today. Expect all major car brands to have at least one dual turbo model offering within the next couple of years.
12. 3D – Three dimensional television is emerging. We see a lot of prototypes already coming out today with a lot of approaches to stereo imaging, with glasses or without glasses. Will a single standard or format prevail? We can’t really tell. But 3D is coming to the home and even to portable devices in about 2 years, that’s for sure.
The nice thing about these emerging technologies is that almost all of them are advancements towards efficiency. It’s not just about bigger, faster and more powerful, but also about being greener and more efficient.
Today, I will never know if I am right about these things. But several years from now, it would be nice for me to look back at this blog, just to see how many hits and misses I’ve made.